Sven Nys (Crelan-AA Drink) has thrown down the gauntlet to young rival Wout Van Aert (Vastgoedservice-Golden Palace) before Sunday’s Koppenbergcross race by revealing he has set a new record on a training loop he uses to test his form.
Nys will end his hugely successful career after the current cyclo-cross season but is still hungry for success and is aiming for a record 10th victory in the Koppenbergcross. He finished seventh at last Sunday’s Zonhoven Superprestige race after being slowed by a puncture on the final lap while racing for second place behind Van Aert.
Nys Tweeted: “3:09! A time with many meanings #Passion!”
Belgian website Sportmagazine revealed the full significance of the record. Nys has apparently trained on the circuit in Lichtaart forest near Antwerp since 2003 with coach Paul Van Den Bosch. He set a first time of 3:36 but went on to lower it to 3:18 in 2010 and then 3:13 in 2012.
The 39 year-old Belgian has now gone even faster, setting a time of 3:09. He hopes it is a sign that he can take on Van Aert on the hilly Koppenbergcross course that includes the cobbled farm track also covered in the Tour of Flanders each spring. Van Aert beat Nys to win the 2014 edition of the race.
Nys is hoping for rain and muddy conditions that would play to his strengths and make for a tough and selective race. “If the climbs are muddy, as they should be, you can make a difference with your physical ability and bike technology on the climbs and descents,” he told Sportmagazine.
“It would make it a lot less heroic,” he said of possible clement conditions, also taking to Twitter to say: "Summer in the week of the Koppenberg! That is a 'cross rider's worst nightmare!”
Cyclingnews will have full coverage of Sunday’s racing at the Koppenbergcross. Women will also be in action and will again earn equal prize money after a ground-breaking agreement in 2014. Both the men's and women's races will be shown live on Belgian VRT television.